voice in the wind

This book (and review) may not be suitable for younger audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

Hadassah is captured after the sacking of Jerusalem. She is sold into slavery in Rome, a sprawling city of lust, greed, and bloodshed. The prime entertainment choices are the Roman games, in which prisoners of war kill each other, or the prostitutes at the temple of Artemis. (Because the goddess of the hunt and virginity totally needs prostitutes?)

Hadassah’s been lucky to survive and is content to have good owners. They are rich, privileged and they have everything they need. Yet after partaking in all the sensual pleasures Rome has to offer, they find themselves restless and emptier than before. Hadassah yearns to help them, but technically slaves aren’t even supposed to look their owners in the eyes, let alone talk out of turn.

Things get complicated when she falls in love with Marcus. She has every reason to keep her distance, least of all because he is one of her owners. You see, Hadassah isn’t Jewish like everyone thinks she is. She’s a Christian. And in Rome, that’s a death sentence if you’re found out. Jews are slaves, and Christians are lion fodder.

The Quills: 8.5/10

Marcus wanted more from life. He wanted to feel his blood rushing through his veins as it did at the chariot races, or when he witnessed a good gladiatorial contest or when he was with a beautiful woman. […]

Life was a hunger meant to be sated. Life was meant to be swallowed, not sipped.

-Francine Rivers, A Voice in the Wind

A Voice in the Wind is a historical romance. It’s also Christian fiction. First, I just want to say that I’m not religious, which is why I don’t accept requests for reviews of religious novels. I did go to church when I was younger, so I understand some of the biblical references, but not all. My review isn’t going to take into account their accuracy or relevance.

This book is told in third person from multiple perspectives, and we get to follow two separate plot lines that merge together halfway through the book. Jumps between different characters’ POVs are quite frequent, but they are never confusing. The writing is straightforward rather than fancy–it will rarely make you pause and think, “Wow, that was a great phrase” but it does tell the story effectively.

This is definitely an adult’s book. Readers beware: there are deaths, abortions, beatings, sex and fights. Yeah, lots of bloody fights. C’mon, it’s Rome after all.

I have nothing to say about the characters and world building beyond that they’re fabulous. In a gritty kind of way. The world is vast and detailed, the characters lovable but complicated. The world building does lend to a slower start, and the beginning has a lot of biblical references for background information, but if you get past that, the story picks up speed.

There is a lot of listing of events, which is necessary to understand the political circumstances, but they do kind of drag on, and it’s telling, not showing. There are often in-text definitions of terminology. I’m not sure what to think about this; putting terms in a glossary would be somewhat annoying to keep referencing, but the in-text definitions tend to jerk me out of the story world for a moment.

There are a few passages that summarize the outcome of events before describing the event itself. For example, one passage says something akin to “He died that afternoon” before proceeding to explain how that happened. This undercuts any suspense those scenes could hold. These only occur once in a while though, so it’s not a huge problem.

The Roses: 9/10

This book made me cry. Granted, it’s quite easy to make me cry, but still. I wasn’t entirely in love with all of it, but there are moments that are just awesome. In a heart-wrenching way.

The beginning is admittedly difficult to get through, but persistence will be rewarded. And seriously, it’s Ancient Rome! The Roman Empire and Victorian England are my two places to be in books.

This book is the first in a series. I have read the sequel and it was equally–if not more–heart-wrenching. However, the sequel had many more biblical references than the first. Yeah, I admit to skimming those parts. Since I didn’t read it in its entirety, I won’t be reviewing it, nor will I review the third book, which switches protagonists to follow one of the side characters.

A Voice in the Wind is a well-crafted novel that is first difficult to pick up, and then difficult to put down. If you’re not daunted by the label of “Christian fiction” I encourage you to pick it up.